What is a Physician Assistant? (PA-C)

Physician Assistants are healthcare providers who are educated at medical schools, in the medical model. They are trained to diagnose and treat illness, as well as provide preventative care in partnership with a physician supervisor. The “C” indicates that a PA is certified by the National Commission of Certification of PAs. This certification requires 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years, along with passing a national recertification exam every six years to maintain that very important “C”.

As members of healthcare teams, PAs take medical histories, examine and treat patients, make diagnoses, prescribe medications, order and interpret lab work and imaging, refer to specialists, assist in surgery, counsel patients and perform minor procedures. PAs practice in a wide variety of specialties and settings. PAs often have many primary care patients who they care for over many years, who never meet the supervising physician. However, for more complicated patients a PA may consult with a physician or even ask the physician to assume care if it is outside of the PA's scope of practice and training.